The theme of this year’s World Day of Audiovisual Heritage is ‘Archives at risk: protecting the world’s identities’. To celebrate, we bring you this quirky 1920s Australasian Gazette newsreel featuring a Charlie Chaplin lookalike competition, goat racing and bathing beauties.
Today we think nothing of taking countless videos of live performances and parades, but in 1921 filmmaking equipment was expensive and cumbersome, making footage like this relatively rare.
‘The Charlie Chaplin and Beauty Girl Competitions’ is an excerpt of Australasian Gazette No. 522 and contains footage of the children’s afternoon at the Australian Horse Carnival held at the Sydney Showground on Saturday 12 February 1921.
NFSA film curator Tara Marynowsky says she was initially drawn to finding out more about the newsreel because she is a self-confessed ‘sucker for a good impersonator – especially a Charlie Chaplin one’, but in addition to the Chaplin lookalikes she was excited to come across footage of ‘beauties’ modelling avant-garde designs complete with elaborate headdresses and hoop-skirts.